SATURDAY 10th December was the third race in the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series sponsored by Purvis Stone Products. On a crisp afternoon and near perfect racing conditions 74 athletes took part in the 10K race at Drum Manor forest park.
Among the athletes was top European orienteering, City of Derry athlete Allan Bogle who had the determined and focused look of a man ready to do battle. At 12pm the race started & Bogle wasted no time signalling his intentions as he lead the pack out followed by Jonny Steed Ballymena Runners, Archie McElhinney Sperrin Harriers and Conor Moore Omagh Harriers.
Further down the field Nigel Davidson was chasing Mark Alexander & Emmet McAlister, Ballymena Runners and Jim Gonnelly, North East Runners. Sperrin Harriers very own international athlete, Karen Alexander was running very strongly and lead the female race by quite a distance. A fantastic game of cat and mouse was developing between Paul McLaughlin and Martin McGirr while Keith Ruddel was coming under pressure from Up & Runners Richard Rowe. Jim Breen Springwell was showing real class leading Sperrin Harriers baby faced assassin, Alan Shaw, on a merry dance.
They were followed by Sperrin’s Conor Henry who was being hunted & in danger of being swallowed up by a pack of runners that included Sperrin’s Tommy Harraghy & Adrian McCreesh and Declan McGrellis, unattached.
They were followed by Irwin Speirs, Trevor Dallas & Gregory Cahoon, Sperrin Harriers and Pat Groggan. In the next group was Ashley Hughes, Cheryl Cardwell & Jammie Johnston, Sperrin.
Running very strongly was Sperrin’s Fiona Crozier who was being chased by new club members Sean O’Gara, Fergal McElroy, Tanya Black Martin Donaghy, Paul O’Gara and Dougie Finlay.
Barry O’Neill thought he was 21 all over again and that it was his lucky day as he was being chased by Joanne Bell & Natasha Henry. Russell Bell was leading from Darren Warnock, Karen McElroy, Rodney Young, Margaret Conway, Ursula Kelly, Hannah Su & Michelle Murphy all of Sperrin Harriers.
As the second lap began, Bogle started to show his class and stretch his lead from Steed and the others. Young Conor Moore closed down Archie McElhinney to take 3rd position. Darren Church (Sperrin) joined the battle between Paul McLaughlin and Martin McGirr.
It was very difficult to see who was going to come out on top while Jim Breen could not shake Alan Shaw despite his best efforts. Irwin Speirs had shrugged of Trevor Dallas however he wasn’t on his own for too long as he now had Gregory Cahoon for company.
Colly Galagher was doing everything in his power to ensure that Gerard (the machine) McNally remained behind him. Tommy Harraghy, Francis Stewart & Adrian McCreesh were going at it hammer and tong with no one prepared to give into the other. A fantastic battle developed between 6 Sperrin athletes, Kevin Devlin, Cheryl Cardwell, Michael Monaghan, Gary Ward, Jeremy Dobson & Ashley Hughes. As an indication of how competitive this battle was just 31 seconds separated them at the end.
As the race officials, who were turning a pale shade of blue from the cold, looked up the 300 meter home straight it was no surprise to see Allan Bogle canter to victory setting a new course record in the process in a time of 35.22. He was followed in second place by Jonny Steed in 36.52 and in third place was Conor Moore in 37.16. The female race was won by Karen Alexander who crossed the finish line in 39.59 and she was followed in second by Cheryl Cardwell making it a Sperrin one, two in a time of 45.56. In third place was Ciara Larggy in a time of 46.43.
The full Sperrin Harriers results are as follows Archie McElhinney 37.31, Nigel Davidson 39.07, Karen Alexander 39.59, Martin McGirr 40.35, Darren Church 40.41, Paul McLaughlin 40.58, Gareth Cardwell 41.34, Keith Ruddell 41.46, Alan Shaw 42.05, Conor Henry 42.10, Tommy Haraghy 42.43, Adrian McCreesh 42.46, Francis Stewart 42.53, Ali Ferguson 43.25 Irwin Speirs 43.26, Colly Gallagher 43.43, Gerard McNally 44.12, Trevor Dallas 44.38, Gregory Cahoon 44.44, Kevin Devlin 45.26, Cheryl Cardwell 45.56, Michael Monaghan 45.58, Gary Ward 46.00, Jeremy Dobson 46.09, Ashley Hughes 46.27, Sean O’Gara 46.54, Jamie Johnston 47.00, Paul Martin 47.15, Fiona Crozier 47.35, Fergal McElroy 47.38, Tanya Black 47.44, Martin Donaghy 48.49, Paul O’Gara 49.11, Rodney Young 49.39, Dougie Finlay 49.53, Joanne Bell 50.06, Barry O’Neill 50.20, Natasha Henry 50.44, Russell Bell 51.27, Darren Warnock 53.03, Oli Murphy 53.57, Barry Conway 54.23, Margaret Conway 55.53, Karen McElroy 56.25, Ursula Kelly 57.10, Hannah Su 60.38 & Michelle Murphy 67.03. New club member and racing in her first race for the club, Nicola McIvor, ran 5K in 33.02. Kevin Murphy DNF due to injury or some might say old age :)
Sperrin Harriers would like to thank the Winter League main sponsor, Purvis Stone Products. They would also like to thank the Forestry Service for their permission to host the race in Drum Manor and for the use of the facilities and Greencastle AC for the Chipped Timing.
Many thanks to the ‘backroom team’ who prepared the course, took registration, recorded times & places, served refreshments, members who provided biscuits and those who helped with the dismantling of the course afterwards.
Finally we would like to thank all the athletes for their continued supported of the race series to date. This was the final Winter League Race of 2011 and we look forward to seeing you all at the next race in the New Year which sees us return to An Creagan on Saturday 21 January 2012.
May we take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year.